Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Diran Apelian, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Richard D. Sisson, Jr., Department Head

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Makhlouf M. Makhlouf, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Sumanth Shankar, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Qingyue Pan, Committee Member




"New, economical semi-solid metal (SSM) processes rely on forced convection during solidification to influence non-dendritic growth. The fundamental mechanisms that produce SSM microstructures in the presence of forced convection (due to fluid flow) are not fully understood. The objective of this work is to elucidate these mechanisms through the use of a new semi-solid slurry-making technique. Employing an apparatus developed at WPI, two alloy melts are mixed within a static reactor that induces convection and rapid cooling. Experiments carried out with this apparatus, named the “Continuous Rheoconversion Process” (CRP), result in globular semi-solid microstructures throughout a wide range of processing conditions. These conditions include the superheat in the melts before mixing, cooling rate of the slurry through the SSM range, and the presence or absence of inoculants in the melts. The results comprise repeatable sets of semi-solid microstructures having fine particle size and shape factors approaching unity. Even in the absence of melt inoculants, uniform distributions of α-Al particle sizes of about 60µm are attainable. Entrapped liquid is not present in the majority of the samples obtained with the CRP, and irregular particles that form in the process are of a limited distribution. Variation of slurry analysis methods indicates that these structures can be obtained consistently for both thixocasting and rheocasting applications. The design of the mixing reactor leads to turbulent fluid flow just as solidification commences. The results suggest that the following factors must be considered in identifying the mechanisms operating under the above conditions: copious nucleation of the primary phase; dispersion of nuclei throughout the bulk liquid; and inhibited remelting of nuclei due to temperature uniformity. In the CRP, these factors consistently lead to suppression of dendritic growth, significant grain refinement, and globular slurries. The exact fundamental mechanism leading to this effect is yet to be uncovered; however it is clear that temperature gradients ahead of the liquid are such that a cellular, non-dendritic morphology is the most stable growth form. Through further exploration of the process and identification of the operating mechanisms, future development of economical, continuous rheocasting methods will be facilitated."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Materials Science & Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





thixocasting, SSM, Semi-solid processing, liquid metal mixing, rheocasting, Liquid metals, Laminar flow, Metal castings, Semi-solid metals